Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Unpredictability of March

A couple weeks ago, I attended the meeting for worship at Princeton Friends School, which the school calls "Settling In". Each week they meet for 30 minutes and a student offers a query. Since it was the first day of March, the assigned student asked "What are you looking forward to in March?"

Students talked about upcoming birthdays, looking forward to playing outside more, and summer coming closer. They were ready to shed their winter clothes and activities for sunny days spent outside. Eighth graders expected to hear back from high schools soon and they were nervous and eager to find out where they were accepted. These students were eager to take the next step in their education and life.

One of the teachers stood up and talked about how March could bring different weather. In March it is still normal for there to be a late snowstorm he said, but we also could expect sunny days to happen where short sleeves can be worn and bike riding could be done. The theme of his message was that March brought unpredictability, at a time when we wanted something concrete, ie the end of Winter and the start of Spring or the end of one stage of life and the becoming of another. We know that Spring is coming and we will hear about where we go on the next stage of our life, but March always brings surprises and bumps along the way.

In my experience this rang true. I used to go to New Orleans in March from Washington DC with a group of high school students for an alternative spring break trip. I remember often times bundling up to go to the airport in DC and then shedding all the layers once we landed in New Orleans. New Orleans was usually sunny with highs in the 70s and 80s that week in March. It gave us our first glimpse of Spring that helped us make it through the last few weeks of a DC winter/early Spring when we returned home. We were given a chance to see what was awaiting us once we waited out the dreadful last weeks of the winter season.

But that was not always true. Once I remember arriving to the airport in DC when it was in the 70s there. Instead of the group all wearing shorts and T-shirts in preparation for warm weather to follow us, we were carrying jackets and coats while wearing jeans. I actually expressed concern for two students who arrived with shorts on. "Did you come prepared? Did you look at the weather forecast?" Once we landed in New Orleans, it was a different than other years. It was cloudy with a high in the upper 40s. That night the temps dipped down to about freezing. We were cold that night sleeping in the not well insulated dorm room. It did warm up by the end of the week, but it seemed strange.

A week later after the Settling In worship, I was reminded of the teacher's words. A small snowstorm dumped a couple inches on Princeton, ruining any plans for bicycling or playing outside. It was beautiful and Princeton looked more like it was early January than early March. Jenn and I would have appreciated the snow more if we weren't in a hurry to make it to DC. We left that morning instead of the night before due to forecasts of snow. Yet, despite the weather forecasters' predictions, the snow came that morning.
The unpredictability of March caught us and we were not prepared or happy. We were worried that we were going to be late. Even though we knew it would clear up as we headed south, we were still worried in the moment. We knew that we needed to just keep driving until we were out of the storm

I feel like being a religious seeker is living perpetually in a state of March. Hopefully most of us have made it through the long journey towards God, the Light, the Holy Spirit. We know that we are almost there to the glory and unlocking the mystery, but we are not there just yet. Instead we will encounter a little more doubt and weariness and we will encounter quick fixes that promises happiness sooner than later. Sometimes I feel like that this time is harder than the journey I experienced at my lowest point in time. I am ready for the low point to be over. I am ready for God! That thought, much like looking forward to sunny days during a late winter snowstorm, keep me going in my faith.  


  1. Greg,
    This is really cool, and it speaks to me. I'm actually on sabbatical from my teaching job right now, a sabbatical whose purpose is to do some seeking and reflecting on my spiritual roots, and particularly why I'm an educator. While at this time of year I'm responsible for a lot of things at school that it's hard to get away from, I deliberately choose early March through June because I wanted to witness the transition from winter to spring. I wanted to SEE it really closely. So what you have written here adds another layer to what I am feeling and seeking at this moment. Thanks for sharing. - Drea

    1. Hey Drea,

      I am glad that this post spoke to you! Someone else said a similar thing to me. I started writing this post a week ago and I stopped because I got off on a bad start. Yesterday I woke up and felt like I needed to finish this post. God works in mysterious ways. I really thought I would not end this post.